By Aaron Recuenco
The names Michael Yang and Allan Lim do not ring a bell on police spies working on the government’s war on drugs.
PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde said that a review on the names of those who are in their drug watchlist do not include the two names cited by retired police colonel Eduardo Acierto as behind the smuggling of tons of illegal drugs into the country.
“As far as the PNP is concerned, Michael Yang is not included in any watchlist or investigation of person with links to illegal drugs,” said Albayalde.
The PNP is one of the two main law enforcement agencies tapped by the Duterte administration in its aggressive campaign against illegal drugs. The other one is the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Albayalde said that it was his first time to hear the name of Allan Lim, after Acierto said that Yang and Lim’s names were included in the confidential report he submitted to the PNP leadership and PDEA, which in turn, forwarded the report to Malacañang.
According to Acierto, he made the confidential report in August 2017 in a bid to warn President Duterte on Yang and Lim who were reported to have been attending meetings between the President and Chinese businessmen.
Yang was dragged into a controversy last year after identifying himself as presidential adviser on economic affairs through a calling card.
Acierto purportedly stated in his report that both Yang and Lim were behind the clandestine shabu laboratories which he dismantled in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City when he was still working as anti-narcotics official of the PNP.
Acierto gave the report to now Police Major General Camilo Cascolan who then heads the Directorate for Operations. Another copy of the report was given to PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino who in turn forwarded it to Malacañang.
But despite the report, Acierto said both Yang and Lim were not even investigated. Almost a year after he prepared the report, Acierto found himself being linked to the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu which was stuffed inside magnetic lifters found in Cavite.
But Albayalde denied receiving the report from Acierto and even meeting him, as he stressed that he never worked with Acierto even before the latter’s dismissal from the service in August 2018.
“I would like to categorically debunk allegations made my dismissed Police Colonel Eduardo Acierto that I failed to act accordingly to an intelligence report that he purportedly submitted when he was still in the service with the defunct Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force,” said Albayalde.
“First, since I assumed Office as Chief PNP on April 2018, I do not remember having received any copy of an alleged report that identified presidential adviser Michael Yang as being involved in drug activities,” he added.
Acierto is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1989. He spends most of his police career in drug enforcement operations of the PNP.
He was dismissed for his involvement in the anomalous registration of more than a thousand AK-47 which ended up at the hands of the New People’s Army. It was then President Aquino who exposed the anomaly.
As far as Albayalde is concerned, Acierto could have been drumming up the issue to divert the public attention away from the smuggling of shabu last year.
Acierto, on the other hand, said that he was forced to spill the beans since he had been receiving death threats. He added that he also received report that a P15 million bounty was placed on his head.
“I can only speculate that Acierto could be doing all these indiscriminate allegations in a vain attempt to muddle the ongoing case resulting from his indictment in the P6.4-billion Shabu smuggled inside magnetic lifters thru the Bureau of Customs,” said Albayalde.
Albayalde argued that if Acierto indeed found his intelligence report credible, he should have mapped out operations in order to pin down those who were named in his intelligence report.
“If at all there was actionable intelligence on this report, Acierto should have acted on it and launched operations even without clearance,” said Albayalde.
Asked if operations that would run after big syndicates require clearance from the PNP leadership, Albayalde said that the Chief PNP is usually being consulted.
But he was quick to clarify that the operating unit or head should have already prepared an action plan before consulting with the Chief PNP. In the case of Acierto, he said that it did not happen.
Albayalde said that instead of resorting to any diversionary tactic, Acierto should be focusing his attention on the charges filed against him to clear his name.
“My advice for him is to man up and face the charges squarely rather than shoot from the hip with indiscriminate accusations,” said Albayalde.
He added that Acierto can even seek assistance from the PNP to secure him if he is receiving death threats.